Sunday, October 23, 2016

Stupidity Feeds Stigma of PTSD

Replace Stupidity with Spectacular 
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
October 23, 2016

For over three decades I have heard all kinds of things, had my heart broken more times than I can calculate, but then there are moments, when I am in awe of how spectacular these veterans truly are. 

Parade Magazine published an article written by Paula Spencer Scott this month, "Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness." Stacy Bare, an Iraq veteran said he was suffering from PTSD and wondered "What does it mean to be at home, a veteran anyway?" He went to the Druid Arch in Utah and was struck by "awe" beginning a change within him.

“Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things,” says psychologist Dacher Keltner, who heads the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab.
That keeps getting missed in this messed up, convoluted dialog on PTSD and suicides connected to military service. It isn't that they were not able to "handle it" but handled it the whole time when the men and women in their unit are deployed with them. Why? Because their lives matter and they are willing to die for one another.

That comes from a strong emotional core. The very worthy part of them that caused such devotion is also the part of them that grieves from losing so many they cared for.

The "awe" moment for them is when they realize they are not stuck suffering, do not have anything to be ashamed of and they can heal. We just allow other conversations to permeate the news they hear.

When Donald Trump said “When you talk about the mental health problems - when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it." he showed he doesn't get it. The problem is, far too many are just like him.

There are Medal of Honor Recipients openly talking about their own battles with PTSD so that others may overcome the rumor of weakness or claims of lacking intestinal fortitude. There are Special Forces veterans talking about what they also experience coming home along with Generals speaking openly, hoping to lead by example.

Folks can do all the talking they want about the "problem" of suicides to make others aware, and get noticed by the press, but they never seem to mention their talk is doing no good at all. It is feeding the stigma.

If they want to do pushups or other publicity stunts, who does that actually serve? Is it the suffering veterans forced to remain in the shadows? Is it the families left behind wondering what they did wrong and blaming themselves? Or is it the people wanting attention for themselves?

Stupidity feeds the stigma of PTSD and leaves them trapped in an endless cycle of suffering and search for what will bring them out of the darkness within their souls. What may be an easy number to remember, they were more than an abstract number to their families.

Isn't it time to actually focus on what is possible and good instead of simply focusing on all this talk of anguish? It is obvious that none of the popular "efforts" managed to change anything other than spread the heartache. How about we talk more about the "awe" moments that begin the healing and replace despair with encouragement?

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